Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Or maybe you are already here and trying to decide which places to visit during your limited time?  Our class is here to help you.  We are already in New Zealand, studying English at Languages International. We have used our weekends and holidays to visit lots of great places in both the North Island and the South Island.  Now we can share our experience with you.  Below are the first of our recommendations for must-visit places in New Zealand (after you have visited Auckland and Christchurch, of course!)

This is the first in a series of four posts about our New Zealand travel recommendations.  Each post is written by three or four different members of our class so that you can get a range of opinions about the best places to visit in NZ.

Here are the top recommendations from Alice, Alex and David…

Rotorua 

Rotorua by AliceRotorua is famous for its thermal areas, when you step into the town, the smell of rotten eggs will always be around you. The steaming hot springs and bubbling mud pools are really good for your skin. Rotorua is also a rich playground for adventure sports. There are lots of activities like skydiving, bungy jumping, skyline and some water sports. You can have a try at whatever you like. In the evening, go out for a walk, you will see the town when it is quiet and peaceful. Or you can go to a bar, have a drink and chat with friends.

Rotorua is a good place to experience Maori culture. Visit one of the Maori villages to meet Maori face to face, learn about the world famous haka and traditional hangi. Whakarewarewa Maori Village is one of the Maori villages here. The local villagers will show you around to see the Maori house and the volcanic area you can go around. They will tell you about the word ‘Kia-Ora’ that is a way to say hello, welcome and thank you in their language, and tell you the stories about their life. You will have a wonderful dancing show by the local people and they will ask you to dance with them. They are very friendly to the visitors; you can take photos with them after the dance show. Nearby you can eat tasty sweet corn which is pulled out of the hot mineral pool and their hangi pie is really delicious! The shops in the village sell authentic arts and crafts, and you can learn more about traditional culture.

Taupo

Taupo by AliceIf you go to Taupo, it’s well worth visiting Huka falls. Huka falls is located in the heart of the Wairakei Park. The water surging through this narrow gut is flowing from Lake Taupo. The Waikato is New Zealand’s longest river. The walking tracks that lead both north and south along the river from here are worthy of investigation on foot or mountain bike. It takes about one hour reach the end of Huka falls walkway on foot. Throughout the journey, you will see the river with an amazing color. You can go swimming in the river as well.

Wellington

90 Mile Beach by AlexWellington is the capital of New Zealand and the second most populous urban area of New Zealand. It is home to 395,600 residents. Also, Wellington is the cultural capital. It has a variety of architectural styles, there area a lot of old buildings there. The city is a popular conference tourism destination due to it’s compact nature, cultural attractions, award-winning restaurants and access to government agencies. Popular tourist attractions include museums and the Wellington Zoo.

Ninety Mile Beach

90 Mile Beach by AlexTo  travel here it’s best to rent a car. 90 Mile Beach is a very long beach. However, it has smooth sand like a road. You can drive on the beach at about 90-100 km/h and it’s not dangerous because the beach is wide and has a hard surface. Not far from 90 Mile Beach there is another interesting place- called “Cape Reinga”. It’s a cape with a light house and you can see an astonishing view. That place very popular with tourists because two oceans meet here: the  Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. If the weather is beautiful with clear visibility, you can see a different color of water in the two oceans. Picture “A” shows “Cape Reinga” in a very strong fog and visibility of not more than 20 meters. You can compare the two pictures taken in different weather: picture “A” was taken when the weather was rainy and picture “B” was taken when the weather was good.

Cape Reinga in mist by Alex
Cape Reinga: Picture A

Cape Reinga by Alex
Cape Reinga: Picture B

Queenstown

Queenstown is a little town in the South Island of NZ. Only 11,000 people live there. It reminds me of a little village, or a little ski resort in Switzerland. Queenstown is very famous for adrenalin rushes. You can do a lot of things there.  You should definitely try the Shotover Canyon Swing. In this variation of Bungee Jumping, you sit in a chair and fall 60m backwards into the deepness. I’d recommend going canyoning in the 12-Mile-Delta Canyon. Both are very crazy stuff, but you must to do them. You must see the beautiful view from the Skyline Gondola. On top of Lomomd Cres, when you need an adrenalin kick, you can drive Down Hill Bike.  And the most important thing that you must do in Queenstown is: eat a Fergburger. That’s the best burger in the world.

Millford Sound

Millford Sound is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. You should definitely visit the steep cliffs and waterfalls in Milford Sound.  The best way to visit this beautiful place is, when you rent a kayak and drive trough the amazing fjord scenery. If you have time, I’d recommend hiking on the Milford Track. This Track is one of the most beautiful tracks in the world. It’s 53.5 km long. I think you need 4 days to hike this track, but it’s really awesome.

Written by Alice (Taupo and Rotorua), Alex (Wellington and Ninety Mile Beach) and David (Queenstown and Milford Sound)

Photos by Alice (Taupo and Rotorua) and Alex (Wellington and Ninety Mile Beach) 

Look out for the next three installments here on the blog to find out where other students think are the best places to visit while you are in New Zealand.

Do you agree with this list?  What do you think are the best places in New Zealand to visit? 

Where have you been in New Zealand? Would you recommend those places to other travellers? Why/why not?